Proper insulation keeps homes comfortable and energy-efficient by creating an effective barrier between external temperatures and internal spaces. With heating and cooling accounting for close to half of home energy bills on average, insulation plays a crucial role in reducing these costs. Several insulation types using different materials are available for walls, attics, basements and crawl spaces. Understanding the merits of fiberglass, cellulose, spray foam and other popular insulations helps pick the right solutions room-wise.
Fiberglass insulation is one of the most widely used traditional insulating materials made from fine fibers of glass. It suits joists, floors, ceilings and walls efficiently, available in batts, loose-fill and rigid boards. Fiberglass effectively slows heat flow yet allows walls to breathe naturally. As batt insulation, it fits between standard wall stud gaps and attic joists snugly. Blown-in loose-fill fiberglass is great for attic floors or dense packing irregular wall cavities. Cost-effective, non-toxic and meeting fire safety standards, fiberglass works well overall.
Mineral Wool Insulation
Resembling fiberglass, mineral wool insulation originates from molten slag or basalt rock spun into fine insulating wool. Rock wool and slag wool varieties suit different temperature ranges based on density and composition. Mineral wool insulation withstands high heat, resists moisture damage and provides effective noise control too. It comes in flexible batts for wall cavities but also as rigid boards for exterior wall sheathing and duct wrapping. Though mineral wool costs more than fiberglass, it offers tremendous heating cost savings.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation offers customized insulating solutions by filling every nook and corner seamlessly. The two-component liquid foam mixture expands tremendously when sprayed using volumetric pumps to create a stiff foamed plastic barrier. Both open-cell and closed-cell formulas are available with different insulating strengths. Spray foam insulates exceptionally well by sealing walls thoroughly and minimizing air leaks. Despite high upfront costs, it often pays for itself within a few years through heating and cooling cost savings.
For homeowners wanting natural sustainable insulation without chemicals, cellulose is an excellent option. Cellulose insulation contains recycled paper, cardboard and wood fiber for good thermal resistance with minimal environmental impact. As loose-fill insulation, cellulose is blown into wall cavities up to the desired density. It packs tightly to limit airflow and resists heat transfer effectively. Cellulose is treated as fire retardant and does not promote mold growth. The higher cost offsets over decades through utility savings.
Rigid Foam Board Insulation
Foam board insulation comprises solid plastic foam sheets commonly made from polystyrene or polyisocyanurate. The rigid rectangular panels are used to sheath exterior walls, roofs, foundation walls and other surfaces prone to thermal bridging. With a high R-value per inch, foam boards insulate using thin profiles while strengthening structural integrity too. They block airflow and moisture but require protective cladding against sunlight damage. Foam boards suit new constructions or major renovations due to intensive installation needs.
Reflective insulation boasts of a shiny aluminum foil facing that reflects radiant heat back to its source. While it does not insulate conductively like other materials, the reflective layers work with tiny air spaces to create low emissivity. This effectively resists summer heat gain and wintertime heat loss through radiation. Easy to cut and install as wraps or sheets, reflective insulation suits flat open spaces like unfinished basements and garages cost-effectively.
Compare insulation materials to pick systems ideal for your retrofit or new build project based on performance, sustainability, installation needs and budget. Expert insulation contractors provide reliable guidance on selecting insulation levels meeting or exceeding code requirements in your area. Investing in robust insulation improves occupant comfort and drastically lowers carbon footprint.